Kenta Mashiko
Kenta Mashiko


Kenta Mashiko

Rapper, Chef at B

Wind storm crossing the zero distance
Man who sometimes has time to spare

Lyrically and cynically spitting out his verses, the word "natural" fits Kenta Mashiko well. Perhaps no other rapper is as naive and shy as he is. Brooklyn Brewery's beer hall "B" is located in the basement of K5. Mashiko works the kitchen and enjoys the sound of the bar from a special seat while making tacos every day. We sit down to chat with him about his approach as an artist and about working in this space, a space fitted with one of the best sound quality experiences in Tokyo.

●Where are you from?
Ibaraki Prefecture.

●How did you spend your time as a student?
In junior high school, fishing was just booming, so I would skip club activities to go fishing. I also practiced skateboarding, but I couldn’t even do an ollie. I would skate with my friends and ride down hills.

●What club activities were you involved in?
I was in the track and field club and I was pretty serious about it. I mainly did the long jump because I thought it was the easiest thing to practice. I continued track and field in high school, but actually, I enjoyed fishing more and often went to the pond with my friends. I don’t remember catching that many fish though!

●When did you first get into music?
I had been listening to Hip Hop since I was in junior high school, but no one around me knew what it was. I happened to meet people my own age who were doing Hip Hop, and it was around my junior year of high school that I somehow started rapping.

●What first got you into Hip Hop?
I always liked it, but I do remember that one day I happened to get an iPod, but I had no idea how to put songs on it. At the time, the only other person I knew with an iPod was my brother’s friend, so I asked him to put a set of songs on it for me. I listened to the songs he put on and that started me on my path to Hip Hop.

●What did you do after high school?
I attended a university in Kanagawa Prefecture.

●Going to university for something you wanted to study?
I really just went with the flow, or maybe it’s just that I wanted to get out of my hometown. But I just couldn’t get into the groove of it and didn’t really fit in with the other students around me, so I didn’t make any friends at all!

●Did you graduate successfully?
I managed to graduate even though I barely earned enough credits. Once I graduated I went back to my hometown because I didn’t have time to look for a job. Instead, I spent a couple of months playing games!

●How did you escape that life?
I was contacted by an acquaintance who wanted me to help him open a lunch bar at a pub in Shibuya.

●What was life like in Shibuya?
Since I didn’t care about the last train, I ended up going out every night and didn’t manage to save any money at all! Then the catering service for the office building started, and after that, I became the employee in charge of that department. I would make lunch boxes early in the morning and drive to Roppongi to deliver them.

●Did you have the energy to go out and party after the early morning work?
I was making lunch at 6:00 a.m. I would finish work at 3:00 p.m., so I would go straight for a drink with my co-workers until midnight.

●Did you continue your music career at that time?
I had been doing live performances and music for a long time, about once or twice a month.

●You were originally acquainted with Mr. Nishioka, the manager of “B,” whom we interviewed previously on Kontext, right?
That’s right. When I was still a university student, I think I was around 20 years old, my friend was DJing at a restaurant called “iki-ba” in COMMUNE in Omotesando, so I went to see him play. That’s where I met Tane-san (Mr. Nishioka). After that, Tane-san contacted me to help out at a whiskey POP-UP event, and that’s how I got the job.

●And it’s through that connection you began working at “B”?
That’s right. Gradually, the catering work started to disappear, so I moved into a different department. It was around this time that I was working hard at a central kitchen in a residential area of Shimokitazawa, just a few doors down from the restaurant. At that time, Tane-san contacted me and told me about “B”, and that’s how I ended up coming here.

●Where did you live at that time?
I lived in Daitabashi. It was quite a deep area with an area called ‘Okinawa Town’ and a live house called FEVER in Niyoda.

●You mentioned that you didn’t have many friends in college, did you have any friendships outside of work?
While in school, I lived near Machida and met an older person through a friend, with whom I met about three times a week and just drank a lot.

●What kind of person was he?
He was into music and worked in hospitality. We worked together when I was a student. I also connected with Tane-san through a DJ who approached me at one of my events, and I feel that I connected more and more with like-minded people, regardless of genre.

●What kind of things were you talking about?
Nothing too deep really. But those conversations created connections, and those friends invited new friends, and so on and so on.

●I see that your connections with people have expanded more through “play,” as opposed to work.
This led to spontaneous events as well.

●What kind of work do you do in “B”?
I am making tacos in the kitchen. I am in full taco mode right now. Since Tane-san books the events, I also participate together in POP-UP events when food is included in the event.

●Have you always liked tacos? Any recommendations?
Actually, I had never tried them before working here. This is where I first became familiar with tacos! To be honest, I recommend all of them, but if I had to choose one, I would say the Carne Asada, which is an Angus beef cut steak taco. It’s really tasty!

●What do you think about when you are making tacos?
I just hope it will be delicious!

●Right next door is the DJ booth, right?
Yes, yes, I have a special seat. It’s my privilege!

●I know it is difficult to hold events in the face of Covid, but as Mr. Nakatani of ‘Somewhere Tokyo’ mentioned before, “B” has one of the best sound systems in Tokyo, so I am really looking forward to more events, but will we be able to see some live performances from you here in the future??
No, I don’t want to do a live performance here!

At work, I’m a little too close to people and I find it embarrassing! But I think it would be very interesting to have people who don’t usually come here, so I would like to hold an event where such people can mingle.

There is indeed a kind of stimulation you get working here, that I just wouldn’t if I were living a ‘normal’ life.

●Tell us about your recent musical activities.
Recently, I have been performing three or four shows a month in Shibuya, Shimokitazawa, Ebisu, and so on, under the name “Frb” instead of “Furaibo”.

●It sounds like you’ve been quite active?
No, that’s not really true!

●I know your live shows are a one-person affair, but how do you make music?
The people around me make the tracks, and it’s my job to put lyrics to them. I keep a notebook where I write down all my ideas for lyrics.

●Do you also create tracks? Where do you get inspiration for your productions?
I haven’t made any tracks yet. I received some equipment to record, but I left it behind. So, I haven’t done any production in particular. I just let it happen naturally.

●Did you get to go to Brooklyn for a “B” inspiration tour?
I didn’t go because Tane-san and the bar team went. But I feel like I can get quite a bit of inspiration just in Setagaya Ward.

●What do you feel you get, working in “B”.
I think it’s the opportunity to meet people I would not normally meet. There is indeed a kind of stimulation you get working here, that I just wouldn’t if I were living a ‘normal’ life.

●Have there been any changes you’ve felt since the store started?
Of course, the contours of the store are forming over time and as the situation is slowly getting better, I find it uplifting that my friends and people who have DJ’ed here are now coming in during their spare time. I hope that in the future there will be people I know visiting the shop every day.

If we can pay the artists and build a relationship where they can drink, eat, and expand their circle, I think this place will finally come into its own. Artists also need a place where they can play.

●It is nice to be able to meet people from all over the world without having to move from the kitchen. It will be even more interesting if more people from all over the world can come.
With zero social distancing, that would be the best, right!

●キDo you have any goals or things you want to achieve?
I want to become a person that makes time for everything. A person other people would look at and think “This person makes a lot of room for everything”. Sorry, that’s the only thing that popped into my head!

●How do you use the money you make from performing?
I wish I could save it, but I always end up using it on the day of the event. Local production, local consumption you know!

●I heard that CONTACT in Shibuya is closing its doors due to redevelopment. It’s very sad to lose a space like that, it kind of functions as a playground in the city where people can experience unique sounds.
It is sad to see such places disappear, but what is even sadder is that they are becoming more distant from those sound experiences. I think that margins where people can casually hang out with their friends are a necessary element for a town, and I would feel lonely if they no longer existed.

●I would like to leave such sound margins in Kabutocho.
I don’t think there are many places like “B”. It is neither a club nor a live space. But you can enjoy good beer, tacos, and good music, and people gather there. If we can pay the artists and build a relationship where they can drink, eat, and expand their circle, I think this place will finally come into its own. Artists also need a place where they can play.

●I think there was a story a while back about Neil Young pulling out of Spotify, due to Joe Rogan’s podcast. There’s also a strongly shared opinion that Spotify itself is a system that doesn’t pay its artists enough.
I think having a functioning system is very important, and it’s something that I would like to implement in Kabutocho too. But when I think about the artist/business relationship I think of Tane-san. My opinions come from a performer’s perspective, so I have high expectations from him!

●How do you listen to music these days?
CDs mainly, and then records. Sometimes I go to Disk Union or other shops and buy 100 yen vinyl records. It’s interesting to sometimes come across a hit record.

I hope to see a more organic connection rather than a closed one, and I would be happy if ‘B’ can become such a place.

●In this day and age, it’s easy to find a huge range of different music and genres. But it gives the impression that information changes too quickly and is maybe quickly forgotten, don’t you think?
Indeed. Maybe the problem is that the distance and access to music have been oversimplified and its history has been lost. Information changes so quickly that if you don’t remember it well, you may not even realize that you have forgotten it.

●I think the same can be said for places. When I am in Tokyo, I often find that buildings that used to stand suddenly disappear, and I don’t remember what used to stand there at all. Information that we quickly consume is similar and is forgotten more easily than you think.
Maybe it’s the same with music. I think that when you find something you like, it will stay with you forever. And more importantly, whether or not you can put a face to that music. I feel that it is a detriment of the current age that we know the name of the artist but cannot picture the face of the person who created it.

●In that sense, it would be nice if the output of both music and the city became more personal. At least in Kabutocho, you can see the faces of the people inside, not just the exterior of the buildings.
I think everyone should listen to the music they like, but I hope to see a more organic connection rather than a closed one, and I would be happy if ‘B’ can become such a place.

●There are quite a few artists who lose sight of things.
I think it’s fine as long as the person has their own ax to grind. However, in my case, I don’t want to get caught up in the money or business side of things without forgetting what music really means to me. I guess what I want is to be able to afford something real to me!

Kenta Mashiko

Kenta Mashiko

Born in Ibaraki in 1995. He grew up listening to Hip Hop during his school days. After graduating from college, he started his music career as “Furaibo,” whilst working in the food and beverage industry.

Text : Jun Kuramoto

Photo : Naoto Date

Interview : Jun Kuramoto

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